The deciding factor as to whether a family-friendly comedy is "good," usually comes down to this: Is it something that can be simultaneously enjoyed by kids and adults alike? With "Yes Day," the answer to this question is an emphatic "no."
"Yes Day" is based on the children's book written by Tom Lichtenheld, and illustrated by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The film is "harmless" only in the sense that it is so generic, nobody could possibly be offended by it, and that it at least knows what it is. It isn't overly long, clocking in at 86 minutes (like films of this vein should) and it has enough energy to engage smaller children for its duration.
But adults beware: This is an excruciating watch...you may want to find something interesting on your phone to watch while your kids watch this in the background.
The premise is simple enough: Mom (Jennifer Garner) and Dad (Edgar Ramirez) are not allowed to say "no" to anything that the kids request, within reason (they can't ask for things in the future, like getting a dog, they can't travel outside of a few mile radius of where they live, and they can't do anything illegal). In essence, it's a full day of saying "yes" to everything and anything the kids want. And the result of such a horrific idea is that the newfound freedom will bring the kids closer to their parents and instill them with confidence, while liberating the otherwise stuffy parents who used to say yes to everything but who now say no, no, no, to pretty much anything that might be fun.
The children (Disney star Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner and Everly Carganilla) are also so vanilla it almost hurts. As their parents let loose and oblige to all requests, the kids spend time laughing and giggling their way through the film...if the idea of a "yes day" is supposed to help a family get by, surely there were more interesting families - or challenging kids - to focus on, instead of the one that this movie chooses to.
As the family makes their way through their special day, its devoid of any jokes that wouldn't land with a 4-year-old, and you can't help but feel embarrassed for all of the adults involved, even as they try their best to grin away the awfulness.
It seems the concept of a "Yes Day" was more fun as a short, illustrated children's book than as a full-length film...the proof being the full-length film. Should you watch "Yes Day" with your family? This is one occasion where saying "no" is fully appropriate...you'll thank me later.
Genre: Comedy, Family.
Run Time: 1 hour 26 minutes.
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Edgar Ramirez, Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla.
Directed by Miguel Arteta ("Like A Boss," "Duck Butter," "Beatriz at Dinner").
"Yes Day" is on Netflix on Friday, March 12th, 2021.
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